Building Trades’ Aboussie first labor leader to receive management award
By TIM ROWDEN
PRIDE Labor-Management honored leadership in the St. Louis construction industry at its seventh annual awards luncheon Aug. 21.
For the first time in its more than 40-year history, PRIDE recognized a labor leader with the Al Fleisher Management Award, recognizing St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie for his tireless work and steadfast commitment to building consensus among labor, business and political leaders.
“We consider ourselves to be partners in our industry,” Aboussie said. “Partners with our contractors; partners with our construction consumers; partners with the governments we deal with all the time; partners with our political leadership; and partners with the wide variety of community groups we have in our St. Louis region.”
This fall, the St. Louis Building Trades Council is launching its BUD program – Building Union Diversity, an effort to help minorities, women and disadvantaged groups become trained, skilled union craftsmen through the apprenticeship programs of 10 participating union locals.
“This isn’t a ‘make work’ temporary effort to get minorities and women hopping from one job site to another to meet artificial quotas,” Aboussie said.
“BUD is a program to give men and women a career in construction that want one, but haven’t had the opportunity before
Aboussie said the Building Trades Council also is working closely with community groups to find ways to stop community in-fighting — such as between St. Louis City and St. Louis County and its municipalities — and start working together as a region, citing:
• This year’s unified effort to bring the next generation Boeing aircraft, the 777X to St. Louis.
“Everyone was together, and in a short time we put together one helluva package,” Aboussie said. “While we were not successful, that doesn't mean we stop trying.”
• The construction of the new Busch Stadium, while the old stadium was still in use.
• Rebuilding Highway 40 and countless other major construction projects here that came in on time and on budget.
“The St. Louis Building Trades Council stands ready to be a partner in whatever makes sense,” Aboussie said. “And we’re doing our part. We’re training the best-qualified, skilled workforce in America right here in St. Louis.
“We’re working with out contractors, with buyers of construction, with everyone in our industry to make agreements that make sense.”
In addition to Aboussie, PRIDE also honored the following:
• Don Wojtkowski, executive director, facilities and properties for SSM Health Care – St. Louis, received the Joe Rinke Owner Award.
“Our organization recognizes that the union construction trades are an important part of our mission,” Wojtkowski said. “As we make investments, we know that we can count on the union construction trades to provide us with a talented, reliable, drug-free workforce everyday.”
• The St. Louis Cardinals organization,whichunveiled the much-anticipated Ballpark Village downtown this year, received the Dick Mantia Labor Award.
Cardinals President Bill DeWitt, was the organizations senior vice president of business development in 2006, during the design and construction phases of the new stadium, and worked closely with the building and construction trades to keep the project on schedule.
During construction of the new ballpark village, DeWitt said he had a bird’s eye view of the working being done from the window of his office.
Watching the iron workers, he said, “made me appreciate how much those men and women do, and the risks they take every day. We so appreciate that they take those risks for us. It moves our region forward.”
• Express Scripts, which, recently added a new 220,000-square-foot building and expanded its Technology and Innovation Center as part of a $56 million investment in its north St. Louis County campus, received the PRIDE Industry Impact Award.
Marty Hoffman, vice president of corporate real estate, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
REMEMBERING DICK MANTIA
Founded in 1972, PRIDEis an acronym forProductivity and Responsibility Increase Development & Employment.
PRIDE co-founder Dick Mantia, and the man chiefly credited with establishing labor-management peace in the local construction industry, died earlier this year after a brief battle with leukemia. He was 82.
“A good labor leader leads workers where they want to go,” PRIDE Executive Director Jim LaMantia said. “A great labor leader leads workers where they need to be. Dick Mantia was, in my opinion, the greatest labor leader to come our of the City of St. Louis.”